There are certain times when you may need a power of attorney. The Texas Power of Attorney lets someone else legally “stand in your place” to get the job done.
Power of Attorney basics
The person you appoint is legally going to “act as if they are you”. The appointed person is called your “Agent”. Or, you can appoint “Co-Agents” to act together. In addition, you can appoint an “Alternate Agent” for safety’s sake. The Alternate is there just in case the first person is unavailable or unwilling to act when the time comes.
Powers of Attorney can be broad (Example: “To act for me in all real estate transactions”.) Or they can be limited (Example: “To act for me in the listing and sale of my home at 123 Main Street).
They can be unlimited or limited in scope. “Unlimited” means that the Agent can do anything and everything you could do. In contrast, “Limited” means they can only do certain things. (Example: A limited Power of Attorney which gives someone the ability to take your child to an activity and pick them up, but does not give the authority to sign an agreement to purchase equipment for the child).
Your Power of Attorney could be limited by time (Example, “For one year from the date signed”). Or , it could be ongoing (Example: “This Power of Attorney continues unless and until I revoke it”).
It could begin immediately. Or, it could only take effect if you become disabled and unable to act for yourself.
When a Power of Attorney can help you
- You are closing on a real estate deal and can’t be at the closing, either in-person or virtually. But you trust someone else to do it for you.
- A business owner wants to appoint someone to keep the business going in case of illness or disability.
- You are going to be out of the country or unreachable and need someone to deal with your bills and day-to-day business. (Anyone hoping for a real vacation someday?)
- The person who watches your child needs the ability to take him to the doctor and deal with the child’s school. You may also want them to sign your child up for activities or take her to the doctor.
- You want someone to do something for you that you can’t do yourself, or don’t want to do for yourself. (Examples: Talk to a utility company on your behalf. Talk to your health insurance company. Take your pet to the vet and make care decisions. Negotiate for and sign a contract for home repair on your behalf. Inquire about a bill with a credit card company. Decide about health insurance enrollment options. Or, put a home or vehicle up for sale).
- A professional with expertise needs written authority to take care of something for you. Or, you want two professionals you have hired independently to talk to each other about you (Example; You want your CPA to talk to the IRS. You want your attorney to talk to your doctor’s office. You want your realtor to talk to your bank officer).
- You want to give another person the ability to transfer title to a piece of property, such as an auto or boat.
Wow! That’s a lot of options!
It sure is. There is specific language for the different situations. Powers of Attorney that relate to health care need to have HIPAA language in them so that medical providers can talk to your Agent without violating privacy law. Financial institutions often require certain language that other facilities don’t. And, while Powers of Attorney relating to your dog and your child may have some of the same goals, the language is obviously different and more detailed for child care.
When should you ask for help?
Powers of attorney need to be exact, and there can be problems if they are not.
Remember, you are giving someone else power to act for you. And, if you are named by someone else as their Agent, you are taking on legal responsibility!
Make sure that any Power of Attorney that you may need is professionally drafted and legally sound. Choose someone you trust.